Veterans Give Back to Nurses

Veterans Give Back to Nurses

When the Minnesota chapter of La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux, more commonly known as The Forty & Eight, decided to help future nurses, it turned to St. Kate’s. Recently, the group transferred the remainingbalance of its scholarship fund to the University. The $32,000 gift will benefit two senior students in the nursing program each year.

“The chapter is not active anymore but the funds are still available, and Donald Schroedl, who chaired the chapter’s scholarship program and is now in assisted living, wanted to make sure we continued our annual contribution,” says longtime member Nick Kakos, who met with University staff and facilitated the donation. “This is a gift that goes back many years, and St. Kate’s was picked because of its outstanding reputation for training nurses.”

The Forty & Eight was formed by World War I veterans returning from France. The name comes from the boxcars stenciled with “40/8” — 40 soldiers or eight horses — that carried the American soldiers, and over 10,000 nurses, to the battlefields.

Both Kakos, age 92, and Schroedl, 95, served in the Second World War. Although neither can say for sure if they met a St. Kate’s nurse while serving with the United States Army Air Corps — Kakos in the Pacific Islands,Schroedl in England — both know their value.

“Nurses were very important in World War II, and there’s still a great need for them,” Kakos notes. St. Kate’s officially became a part of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps training in fall 1943. The corps was established by Congress that year to ensure the country had enough nurses to care for its citizens at home and abroad during World War II. On campus, the students wore gray wool uniforms with red epaulets on their shoulders and insignia on the caps. The University enrolled its last class of nurse cadets in fall 1945.

More than 170 St. Kate's nurses served in military hospitals from 1942 to 1948. Photo from University archives.

More than 170 St. Kate's nurses served in military hospitals from 1942 to 1948. Photo from University archives.

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